Less than eight hours out of Nome on the second half of the Iron Dog snowmachine race Thursday, its front-runners are making another stop for a required layover, joined by four additional teams in Kaltag.
Mike Morgan and Chris Olds’ Team 10 remains the team to beat in the 2,000-mile trek from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks, with race standings as of 8 p.m. showing the duo off the trail for 10 hours after pulling into Kaltag at 2:27 p.m. Thursday. Their closest competitors, Team 16’s Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad, took their Kaltag layover starting at 2:54 p.m.
Morgan was optimistic Thursday morning at the 8 a.m. race restart in Nome about the staggered departure he and Olds enjoyed ahead of more tightly packed teams, with Team 41’s Cory Davis and Ryan Simons taking off just seven minutes before Minnick and Olstad.
The four other teams on layover in Kaltag to round out the top six -- Team 23’s Brian Dick and Eric Quam, Team 40’s Archie Agnes and Arnold Marks, Team 8’s Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson, and Team 2's Shane Barber and Ryan Sottosanti -- are at a greater remove from the lead, arriving at 4:19 p.m., 5:07 p.m., 5:26 p.m. and 5:47 p.m. respectively.
Most drivers opted to play it safe and spend their 10 hours in Unalakleet, 94 miles earlier on the trail east to Fairbanks; a total of 14 teams are there Thursday night, with the earliest check-ins Team 41's Cory Davis and Ryan Simons, Team 17's Marc McKenna and Dusty VanMeter, and Team 6's Andy George and Brad George. The three teams were logged in to the checkpoint at 1:02 p.m., 1:18 p.m. and 2:21 p.m. respectively.
No new scratches have been reported in the race Thursday, with 10 of the original 38 teams off the trail since the Iron Dog’s Sunday start in Big Lake.